Five ways Walt Simonson kicked my ass with Thor #337 (Nov. 1983).

§ September 19th, 2007 § Filed under thor Comments Off on Five ways Walt Simonson kicked my ass with Thor #337 (Nov. 1983).

1. The cover. – Who didn’t look at this cover and think “What the holy heck is going on here?”

That was our very first clue that this wasn’t just another rack-filling, copyright-protecting issue of a comic long past its prime. It signaled to us that, hey, maybe something cool and unusual is finally happening in a comic long since taken for granted.

2. “DOOM!” – The first occurrence of this mysterious being, forging…something…in some unknown realm. Not even the lousy printjob can diminish the power of this full-page, full-bleed image:

We’ll see this fella for the next year or so, a page or two at a time, and the suspense will just keep building until his plotline finally intersects Thor’s.

If I may quote the Unsinkable Chris Sims on the matter:

“It’s a full-page shot of a giant making a sword out of a dead star. And the sound ‘reverberates through a billion billion worlds.’ That’s like eighteen zeroes. Eighteen!”

Indeed. Simonson finally brought back some god-sized storytelling to a comic that had been far too mundane for far too long.

3. “I am called Bill — Beta Ray Bill!” – Thor’s first confrontation with, and our first full-on view of, the alien warrior with the remarkably unlikely but absolutely perfect name:

He looks like a completely formidable opponent for Thor, and he certainly looks like a nasty, evil fellow, but that assumption is turned upside down within just a couple pages….

4. Beta Ray Bill acquires Thor’s hammer! – Thor is defeated and has reverted, unconscious, to his mortal form of Dr. Donald Blake. Bill picks up Blake’s cane, finding it in the hammer’s place. Frustrated, Bill smacks the cane against the wall:

Whoa, hey now. According to the inscription on the hammer itself, by Odin’s own decree, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” So maybe Beta Ray Bill’s not the bad ol’ nasty we thought he was.

5. Odin’s not too big on detail work. – Thor’s old man pops in, requiring the presence of his son…and since Bill’s currently holding the hammer and the power of Thor, that’s who Odin grabs:

…leaving Thor trapped in Blake’s form, crying out for the father who has forsaken him:

…And then Walt Simonson proceeded to continue kicking my ass on this comic for the next few years, giving us the best Thor comic stories (outside of Kirby, of course) ever published. I can’t believe this comic came out 24 years ago…it still feels just like yesterday when I found the last copy of this book on the newsstand.

Even after all this time, even after being a funnybook salesman for as long as I have…I can still feel the sense of wonder this comic gave me when I originally read it back in ’83. It’s good to know that I’m not entirely jaded.

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